Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Day 3–Meekatharra to Wiluna and the Gunbarrel Highway

After a quiet night we were up at dawn preparing for another long day.  From this point we leave the bitumen and will be travelling on unsealed roads.  The distance today would be approximately 600km, so shorter than yesterday.  However being off the bitumen would slow us down.

The first part of the journey was on the Goldfields Highway to Wiluna (183km).  This road is part of the State Highway network and was well maintained.  Beyond Wiluna the road is maintained by Wiluna Shire as far as their border with the Aboriginal Lands.  It’s very dry around here although the country will ‘green up’ in a couple of months when the spring rain arrives.  Then it will be another 10-11 months before the vegetation gets another drink.

Wiluna is on the western edge of the central Australian deserts.  Gold was discovered here in 1896 and within a few years the town had a population of 9000.  The discovery of gold and the subsequent issue of pastoral leases forced the traditional aboriginal people off their lands and into Wiluna were the missionaries set about saving them.  Unfortunately this forced relocation has had the opposite affect and Wiluna is now beset with social problems.  Alcoholism and domestic violence are major issues.  The town has a large police station with what appears to be a sizeable number of officers.

Apart from servicing the aboriginal community, the surrounding cattle stations and local mines Wiluna’s major purpose is to provide supplies to passing travellers traversing the Canning Stock route to the north or the Gunbarrel Highway to the east.


Steel silhouettes representing Wiluna’s history 


Wiluna’s supermarket and service station.  It’s built like Fort Knox with heavy steel door and grills over every access point.  Fuel had to be pre-purchased by credit card inserted into a kiosk.  Obviously the town suffers from a high level of crime.  Wiluna is the local aboriginal word for penis.  However I can think of another part of the anatomy which is more appropriate!

After topping up the fuel tank we headed to the eastern side of the town and the official start of the Gunbarrel Highway


The timing for our trip was almost perfect as the Shire graders were just completing their annual maintenance of the road.  This part of the highway was smooth and wide.  However we knew that would change.


Our journey will take us through the Little Sandy Desert and then the Gibson and Great Victoria Deserts.

1 comment :

Mike Griffin said...

Outstanding blog - really good read. Thanks.